Heard of BFI Player? Well, there’s also BFI Player+, a subscription service that offers an all-you-can-eat selection of hand-picked classics.
Every Friday, Mark Kermode highlights one of the collection’s titles with a video introduction. This week, it’s David Lean’s Blithe Spirit. Based on Noel Coward’s stage play, which was still packing in audiences when the film was released, it sees socialite Charles Condomine hire a medium to conduct a seance in his home – only for the ghost of his dead first wife to begin haunting him and his new wife.
Kay Hammond and Margaret Rutherford both reprise their roles from the stage play, with Lean taken the chance to switch from dramas to comedy. The special effects won the film an Oscar, although Coward was unhappy with the changes made to the play for the movie’s script. That, however, didn’t stop them from working together again on Brief Encounter.
What else is available to stream? Every week, we bring you a round-up of the latest titles on BFI Player+:
Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor’s film is an unusual piece, following the transformation of a teenager, who agrees to play her friend in a crime reconstruction of her mysterious disappearance – and begins to appreciate just how different their upbringings have been.
High and Low
BFI Player+ continues to grow its already impressive Akira Kurosawa back catalogue with this 1963 crime procedural, based on Ed McBain’s novel, which follows an industrialist (played by Toshiro Mifune) who finds himself in a moral dilemma, when a kidnapper aiming for his son takes the boy of the chauffeur instead.
Harley Cokeliss’ 55-minute feature, made for the Children’s Film Foundation, is a small sci-fi with big ambitions. It chronicles the adventures of a tiny alien ball that lands on Earth and has a taste for electricity and custard. Released in 1977, Cokeliss was recruited to shoot SFX for The Empire Strikes Back shortly after.
Chronicle of a Summer
Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s documentary does exactly what it says on the tin, following life in 1960s Paris – and influencing the cinéma-vérité movement as a result.
Play Me Something
Tilda Swinton has always picked interesting projects and that just as true in the 1980s, when she starred in John Berger and Timothy Neat’s essay on the art of storytelling.
John Cassavetes is another BFI Player+ favourite, with the streaming service adding to its ranks of films by the director with his 1968 drama, which sees a husband and wife seek solace from their marriage in the arms of others.
A BFI Player+ subscription costs £4.99 a month with a 30-day free trial. For more information, visit http://player.bfi.org.uk.